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By 24 July 2012 | Categories: gizmos

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In the wake of seeing Canon’s S100, we suspected that the compact shooter would be a tough act to follow. However, Olympus’ XZ-1 proves to be a camera to be reckoned with, offering a truckload of features in a solid body while being a pleasure to use.
 
To start with, the 10.1 megapixel XZ-1 boasts a fast f1.8 minimum aperture, no small feat for a camera of this size, and certainly a boon for both low light shooters and those who want to isolate subjects from their potentially busy backgrounds by having greater flexibility around controlling depth of field. 
 
The camera itself is a pleasure to hold, feeling solid in one’s hand, but not overly heavy. Additionally, while there are a number of controls scattered across the top and back of the camera’s body, these are thoughtfully and logically laid out, which means that the camera neither looks, nor feels, needlessly cluttered.
 
Encircling the fast 28-112 mm optical zoom lens is another feature we loved. As on the Canon S100, a lens ring enables one to conveniently spin through and select everything from aperture and shutter speeds to camera modes and ISO settings (100-6400).
 
Olympus' XZ-1 comes with a fast f1.8 lens
 
 
Put a ring on it

Additionally, the ring enables one to easily select from an exhaustive range of options available in art filters and scene modes, depending on which mode the camera is set to on its topmost dial. Unlike on the Canon S100 though, it did not directly control the lens zoom.
 
Complementing the lens ring is an equally accessible second control dial, found on the back of the camera, above the menu key. This doubles as a D-pad, essentially giving one a myriad of ways to scroll through and dial in everything from red-eye reduction and fill flash, to exposure compensation and how many shots one wishes to capture, either single bursts, 2 fps sequential, or, up to an excellent 15 fps high speed burst.
 
The 720p video capture is initiated using its own dedicated button, while a clear 3" OLED display functions as both viewfinder and image viewer.
 
To the point

Most importantly though, it was hard to find fault with the overall image quality of both the stills and video, which meant that we would have no hesitation slinging the XZ-1 around our neck for a day’s casual shooting. It retails for R4500. 

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